“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.”
— Stephen Hawking
At last, the mystery and the mysteries of life are solved. There’s a universal reason for everything. It’s not God, it’s “spontaneous creation.”
Thank goodness it’s not me either. For instance, I’m now absolved from all those pounds I packed on this summer — spontaneous creation.
The world’s most celebrated mathematician-theoretical physicist-cosmologist has declared that all matter, the universe, came from nothing spontaneously. What a great revelation. It certainly fulfills the notion that the most beautiful scientific theories are the simplest. There was nothing and presto, there was everything. That’s a theory as smooth and comprehensible as the first egg. Or, I should say, the first spontaneously created chicken.
Wait. Let me read Hawking’s quote again. OK. There was absolutely nothing, except the law of gravity, then spontaneous creation happened and there it was, everything.
And everything must have then spontaneously made some room for the law of gravity or “a law such as gravity” that knew the universe back in its nothing days, before it spontaneously became all matter of things.
So if I’ve got this right, in the beginning or before that, there was nothing, no universe. Then, because of gravity…
This is why I’m not a cosmologist. I can’t figure out how the law of gravity, operating without a licensed universe, created all matter spontaneously.
What happened? Did nothing fight the law and the law won? Is a law such as gravity a creator or destroyer? It destroyed nothing, thereby making it something after all. Or, I should say, before all.
I could be reading Hawking wrong. He does say “the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” From my perspective without a physics degree, I thought the universe already did that, but what do I know? (Nothing, in terms of cosmology, but I’m hoping for spontaneous smarts.)
If spontaneous creation is the universe’s tendency, what happens if the universe obeys Hawking’s use of the future tense and creates itself again? Would there be room in the new spontaneous creation for this old universe in which I got up this morning? Would I have to repeat high school in the new one?
I suspect Hawking knows this “law such as gravity” quite well or he wouldn’t be so confident predicting the universe will create itself again. I’d also advise residents of any future spontaneously created universe to have a good deal of respect for Hawking, who knew the “law such as gravity” and saw this new creation coming back when it amounted to nothing.
For me, unscientific as I am, journalistic as I try to be, I’m a word man. I know I’ll always be stuck in the word universe and blink, with little comprehension, at the findings of physicists and cosmologists.
In the beginning, middle and end, I’ll stick with the Word.
Ryan is assistant editor of The Dialog.